News | Published November 20 2019

Conservatives criticised for changing Twitter account to “factcheckUK”

The Conservative Party has been heavily criticised for changing the name of their press Twitter account to “factcheckUK.”

During last night’s debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson, the Twitter name of CCHQ, the Conservative party’s press office, was changed. 

The Twitter bio, which is generally used to describe the purpose of the account, was also changed to “Fact checking Labour from CCHQ” and both the account image, and the header photo, were changed to a new logo.

While the account was operating under the name “factcheckUK”, it tweeted various posts criticising Corbyn’s statements during the debate and retweeted messages which supported Johnson.

The account reverted back to its normal format before the debate finished.

Criticism of this move has centred around the allegation that the Conservatives were deliberately trying to mimic independent fact checking services, such as Full Fact and Fact Check, in order to spread their political messages.

Full Fact, one of these independent fact checkers, tweeted that it was “inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account “factcheckUK” during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service.”

Many Opposition MPs, including Labour’s David Lammy, have called for the Electoral Commission to review this move.

Despite the furore however, Conservative ministers have defended the move. Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, appeared on BBC Breakfast to argue it was clear that the account was part of the Conservative campaign.

Stating that CCHQ was still “explicitly written” on the Twitter handle, Raab argued: “I think its very clear for anyone looking that that’s what we were doing.

“It’s an instant rebuttal mechanism to make sure that, frankly, constant lies spread about the ‘rotten old Tories’ can be rebutted in a factual way.”

As CCHQ is verified by Twitter, meaning the account features a blue tick next to its handle, some have argued Twitter should take action. 

In response, a Twitter spokesperson said: “Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election.

“Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK election debate – will result in decisive corrective action.” 

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
November 20 2019

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